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Mendoza deans discuss college’s history, mission

Three past and current deans of the Mendoza College of Business spoke at a panel Tuesday about the history of the college and its future. Current dean Martijn Cremers and former deans Roger Huang and Carolyn Woo spoke on the panel moderated by Brett Beasley. Beasley and Notre Dame Magazine editor Kerry Temple co-authored the book “O’Hara’s Heirs: Business Education at Notre Dame, 1921-2021,” which was distributed to audience members.

After thanking the attendees for coming, Beasley discussed Mendoza’s past.

“I came across that particular quote from the ‘BusinessWeek Guide To The Best Business Schools’ from the early 1990s. That actually suggested instead of sending white-collar criminals to prison, maybe we should send them to Notre Dame to get an MBA, so that they can go out and be reformed and be better business people. So that’s the tradition that I think we’re all heirs to,” Beasley said. 

Beasley asked the panelists about what it was like to “cultivate … reputation and ethical leadership,” continuing Mendoza’s legacy.

“I think it’s just part of the Mendoza brand, and it comes with all the rest of the mission and therefore the students are familiar with it when they are here. The faculty are passionate about it. And we have increased our vision. We have a University that helps us with developing his mission statement,” Huang, who served as dean from 2013 to 2018, said. 

Woo, dean from 1997 to 2011, said she believes it was an effort of more than a few at the top.

“When I think about leadership, I think of all the people who are in these chairs. We didn’t do what we did because of one person. It was a whole school which understood what we stood for,” she said.

Woo thanked her colleagues and mentioned the bond she had with her female colleagues.

“There is an incredible sisterhood here,” Woo said.

Beasley asked the panelists what success meant to them through good and bad times and how the college should continue to be successful.

Woo recalled hearing another dean from a different school say that success for a business school was to change the earning curve of the students. She disagreed with that. She emphasized the importance of succeeding on our own terms.

“I am going to show that we will succeed, but on our own terms. We will play with the big boys, and we will lose sometimes, win sometimes, but when we win, it will be on our own terms,” Woo said.

When asked about the metrics involved in success and how students’ success is measured, Cremers said he focuses on how much alumni contribute to the world and back to the school.

“My answer would be we want to try to think about how, as students go out, how much do they actually contribute, how well do they operate and how well do they compete. In my mind, in that order. I think we have good indicators for those three,” Cremers said.

Beasley mentioned that the business school has come a long way in 100 years, asking the deans if they have a goal they would like to aim for in the next 100 years. 

“I think my moonshot direction would be to become much more global, especially be more focused on the global south,” Cremers said. 

“I think for me, the moonshot would be sort of like how do you optimize the welfare of people?” Woo said.

The panel ended after the deans discussed the fond memories they have from their time at Notre Dame.

Contact Colleen Farrell at cfarre23@nd.edu

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Mendoza drops 24 credits in core curriculum to make room for electives

Flexibility is the name of the game for current first-year and future business majors at Notre Dame. 

A new college-level core curriculum approved for this year’s first-year undergraduates in the Mendoza College of Business includes 24 fewer credit hours, or eight courses, to check off their four-year plan of study. 

Courses no longer required of all business majors include:

  • Statistic for Business I
  • Accountancy II
  • Business Technology and Analytics
  • Business Law
  • Managerial Economics
  • Macroeconomic Analysis
  • Foresight/Business Problem Solving
  • Process Analysis

At the same time, the class of 2026 and beyond will have nine credit hours, or typically three courses, to take “broadening electives.” The stipulation is that the nine hours must be taken in at least two business departments outside the student’s primary major.

Why was the curriculum changed?

Martijn Cremers, dean of the college, said the core changes allow students to have more control over their undergraduate studies while still providing a “comprehensive business education.”

“The key ‘why’ is to allow our students to be able to take more ownership of their own curriculum and ideally, allow them to take another major outside of the college,” Cremers said. 

The change is also part of a larger plan to offer more time for discernment among underclassmen. In fall 2019, in Cremers’ year as interim dean, the college began allowing first-years to take Mendoza courses, making the undergraduate degree a four-year program as opposed to three.

“The old structure meant that the sophomore year was completely dominated by business courses,” Cremers said, adding that students had less time to decide whether to switch majors within Mendoza or have the opportunity to transfer to another college within Notre Dame. 

Mendoza will continue to offer its five majors: finance, accounting, marketing, management consulting and business analytics. 

Assistant dean Andrew Wendelborn manages the advising office and serves as the point person for undergraduate affairs in Mendoza. Wendelborn said he thinks it will allow students to expand their skill set, leading to more opportunities for a wider variety of internships.

“Today, people aren’t just doing accounting,” he said. “People are dabbling in all sorts of stuff.”

Wendelborn’s office also approves all Mendoza study abroad applications. He says studying abroad should become not only more flexible, but more doable, as students can consider programs that don’t offer any business courses.

“We want to see, can you still graduate, do that location without business and be done in eight semesters,” he said. “So with the reduction in the College Core, that’s opening up a whole other batch of credits [and] I think it’s going to be more attractive for business students to take a location that has no business courses.”

However, all current sophomores, juniors and seniors must finish out the old requirements, regardless of where they are in their degree.

Junior Morgan Rader, a finance and economics double major, expects to be done with her core requirements by the end of her junior year. And that’s with a planned semester abroad in London. While she can’t take advantage of the new space in the curriculum, she sees it as a holistic education for future business students.

“I guess I’m not really benefiting from it,” she said, “But I like the idea that people will have more flexibility to actually just take classes they’re interested in rather than having a set schedule plan that they have to do.”

Rader added that she thinks it may be beneficial for students to still have a “recommended” schedule to promote a well-rounded one. 

Given that he is in a student-facing role, Wendelborn acknowledges that he knows some upperclassmen are disappointed they missed the change by a year or two.

“Just to be fair to everybody and consistent, we had to signal that we’re going to start with the class of 2026,” he said. “That’s just the nature of the office.”

Implementation to affect faculty course assignments

All courses cut from the core curriculum will still be available for students to take rather than phased out, Cremers said, but they will be offered under new names. In theory, any incoming student could take the same exact curriculum as the class of 2025 and older.

Yet, as fewer students inevitably enroll in the dropped core classes, professors will have to shift to teach different ones.

“We’ve made it very clear, very explicit, that due to these changes, no faculty will lose any opportunity to teach here,” he said. “We will ask some faculty to teach a different course that’s still within their expertise.”

The less structured curriculum is also built to offer faculty a chance to be more creative and free to teach specialized courses on topics of interest to them, Cremers said. 

While this fall’s news has been years in the making, Cremers noted he didn’t know the last time the curriculum had been changed, just that it had been a while.

“We haven’t revisited the Core for a long time,” he said. “So I do think it’s a good idea to occasionally do this.”

Contact Alysa Guffey at aguffey@nd.edu.

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News

Professors discuss withdrawal of Chobani IPO, market uncertainty

Chobani, Inc. announced it was withdrawing its previously delayed initial public offering (IPO) at beginning of September. The move signals market uncertainty, Notre Dame professors told The Observer.

The Greek-style yogurt maker had begun laying the groundwork for a stock launch all the way back in February of 2021. Two attempts to go forward with the IPO were postponed in the fall of 2021 and January of this year. Chobani’s ultimate decision to back away from a public listing can help illustrate the current health of the global market.

Last year was a record year for IPO activity in the United States. Over 1,000 IPO transactions took place in 2021 with gross proceeds rising above 300 billion U.S. dollars, assistant chair and teaching professor of finance Jason Reed pointed out.

Reed looks at the spike in IPOs through the lens of a researcher who focuses on the integration of behavioral trends and macroeconomic movements.

“People during COVID were searching for good yields and were willing to take on riskier bets because they thought coming out of COVID, the general health of the global economy was going to rise,” Reed said.

Asked to step into the shoes of an institutional investor, Reed said he would take more risks.

“I’m going to take more risks thinking that, globally, we are going to come out of this together,” Reed stated. “I think that is why you see appetite than from investors for equities, especially equities that are coming from private to the public.”

Paul Schultz, another finance professor, studies periods of extraordinary technological innovations, including the dot-com bubble, when many companies decided to go public.

“IPOs usually are more common when there is less uncertainty in the market,” Schultz said.

Schultz noted that market skepticism underscores the connection between the number of stock listings and the economy.

“[IPOs] are more common after the stock market has been has done well,” he added.

The narrative regarding the amount of stock listings has flipped unilaterally in 2022. “The total number of IPOs in quarter one of 2022 was 57, whereas in quarter two 2022, it is 35,” Reed said.

Schultz points to uncertainty as the explanation for the IPO turnaround.

“At this point the market has done very poorly this year. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty about the economy. Many people think we’re in a recession or going into recession and there is a lot of uncertainty about hiring and so forth,” Schultz said.

Reed also showed concern about the volatility of current market conditions.

“All the volatility that we are seeing is because of things like supply chain disruptions, the Ukraine invasion, oil prices going up. The general global consensus is the global economy is going to become fairly depressed,” Reed said.

“If you track some of the volatility index measurements, you’ll notice the volatility is incredible right now,” he said.

“If there is uncertainty like this, it probably means you’re not going to get a good price for the IPO,” Schultz said. This explains why Chobani decided now to finally withdraw its IPO launch now.

“Whenever a company goes public, there is never clear how much they are going to be able to sell their stock for until the IPO actually takes place,” Schultz said. “The more uncertainty there is, usually the more they end up underpricing your IPO just to make sure that it gets sold. If you are unable to sell your IPO, it is disastrous for the company.”

Chobani will miss out on raising money in stock sales and the increased borrowing power that comes from additional equity capital share. Additionally, a withdrawn IPO can have a ripple effect on that extends much further than the any given company’s stakeholders.

“In terms of how the lack of going public hurts investors, it means fewer stocks out there,” Schultz said. “It is always better I think for investors to have more choices, more opportunities for investment.”

Reed explained where the capital turns to instead if companies are no longer willing to launch a fresh stock listing.

“There is a flight from equities back into treasuries and bonds, something that has like stable yields,” Reed said. Investors want to lock in yields in case there is a huge global downturn.

“If there’s no one in the market for equities, or if the appetite for equities is not there, then I do not want to go and try and sell my brand-new company in that market,” he said.

Reed could not predict how long the economy will continue to be depressed, pointing to inflation and interest rates as other important indicators of macroeconomic strength.

“No one really understands knows the path of what’s going forward, but the consensus seems to be the general concern for overall global health is preventing some of these IPOs from developing,” Reed said.

He foresees trouble for “at least the next six months.” Still, all hope is for Greek yogurt lovers is not lost.

Though Chobani has backed out of their IPO now, “if they withdraw an IPO usually takes a few years before they try it again,” Schultz said.

You can contact Peter Breen at pbreen2@nd.edu

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Viewpoint

An apology for majoring in both business and liberal studies

This past summer, my friends and I made a joint goal to finish reading the colossus that is “Anna Karenina.” At over 800 pages, this piece of Russian literature is one Leo Tolstoy’s most famous works, second only to “War and Peace.” My friend group and I all started this book at different points of our lives but failed to finish the work. This time, our joint mission and incentive was to watch the film version (directed by Joe Wright, featuring Keira Knightley and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Anna and Count Vronsky respectively).  

 It took me nearly a month to complete the text, and I couldn’t help but feel like “Anna Karenina” followed me everywhere. I was consumed by the work and found it popping up in my daily life (more specifically, my summer course that I was taking — managerial economics). To accommodate my study abroad schedule in junior spring, I decided to get ahead and take a class required for all business majors in Mendoza. I supposed with the extra time summer brought, I would focus better on the partial derivatives and game theory necessary for a successful completion of the course. 

 However, I was surprised at how much I connected managerial economics with “Anna Karenina.” For example, I was looking at my assigned reading and, in the article, “Competition Is for Losers” by Peter Thiel, he ends the piece by doing a spin-off of Tolstoy’s famous opening, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Instead, Thiel offers that business is the opposite, and that “All failed companies are the same: They failed to escape competition.” It is the monopolies (happy families) who solve unique problems and differentiate themselves who are successful. 

 To provide some context about the text, “Anna Karenina” follows the scandalizing story of the eponymous character’s affair with Count Vronksy, and the social dilemmas that surround the circumstance. This is a very condensed one-sentence summary that doesn’t nearly begin to cover the layers and intricacies of the book. However, when one of my friends and I discussed our thoughts on it, we were both struck with the question “Why was it named ‘Anna Karenina’?”

 For most of the text, other characters besides Anna Karenina were the subject of Tolstoy’s prose. For almost 100 pages, we read about Levin’s accordance with the plight of the peasants, as he takes to the field with his scythe. We read about political hearings and listen to Kitty’s qualms. But we very rarely get much time with Anna Karenina herself. As I considered this question more and more, I realized that perhaps that was the beauty of the text, and that it could be answered using the concept I revisited in managerial economics that summer.

 According to the law of diminishing marginal utility, when the quantity of something increases, its marginal utility decreases and vice versa. This inverse relationship put in layman’s terms shows that the less of something we have (the presence of scarcity), the more valuable it becomes, and the more it is revered. In the same way, I considered Tolstoy’s careful placement of Anna Karenina in the text. Whenever I started to get wrapped up in her storyline, wanting to read on and on about her dissent into dejection and frustration, Tolstoy would simply switch the storyline to another character, and I was left wanting more. Anna Karenina throughout the text is very much unavailable to the other characters; she has an air of elusiveness that makes her all-the-more attractive and alluring. In the same way, as readers, we feel the intangibility of her character, and it is almost as Tolstoy transports her illusory but captivating presence to his audience. I only began to articulate this thought one night as I was in the middle of a practice set for managerial econ.

 A lot of people question my choice to study both business (marketing) and the program of liberal studies (great books). Many see them as antithetical to one another. While this claim is based on very valid concerns and points, I argue that the two majors can be interdisciplinary. The term interdisciplinary may seem like a lazy term to describe things that one can’t neatly wrap with a bow, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. I’ve learned about the nature of storytelling in unique ways, through my experience in marketing classes, to reading Aristotle’s “Poetics” in my second great books seminar. I’ve discussed Hannah Arendt in my business ethics class and my political theory tutorial. I believe in a lot of ways, business and the program of liberal studies (and liberal arts in general) can supplement one another, build on one another, and create a foundation for a lifetime of discovery and learning.

 While undergraduate school is typically only four years, I feel as though I’ve lived an extra lifetime in my two majors. I have done coding and research in the Mendoza basement, presented with Student International Business Council and have gotten beverages thrown in my vicinity in Ackerman’s finance class. But I also have read poetry, participated in symposiums and have fallen in love with philosophy and political theory in the best student lounge on campus. The duality of my two majors has been the highlight of my Notre Dame experience thus far. Although I may have complained incessantly throughout my two accounting courses, or lamented a difficult oral exam, I hold both Mendoza and Arts and Letters in high regard. I wouldn’t be the student — or person — I am today without my two majors. Perhaps people would think of business and liberal studies as representing “War and Peace,” but I think “Anna Karenina” has shown me that they are much more compatible than most think.

Elizabeth Prater

Elizabeth Prater is a junior at Notre Dame double majoring in marketing and program of liberal studies (great books). She is interested in the cultural implications of analyzing classics & literature under a contemporary lens. When she isn’t writing, she loves playing the fiddle, hiking in the PNW, going to concerts with friends, and offering unsolicited book recommendations. Elizabeth always appreciates hearing from readers, so feel free to reach out eprater@nd.edu or @elizabethlianap on Twitter.